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Inspirations / Distractions – Akash Thakkar

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 | 2 comments

Akash Thakkar is a sound designer, composer and TEDx speaker living in Seattle, WA.

“When I was studying at the Berklee College of Music, I was consistently on the edge of failing most of my classes.

Not because of lack of understanding, or even of passion, but simply because I was distracted.”

And that distraction meant I wasn’t creating anything worthwhile.

I Simply Couldn’t Get Anything Done

I had gotten to the point where it was impossible for me to work with any degree of focus. I would have to have something in the background, whether it be music, Netflix, or Youtube. As a result, I would pull all-nighters for assignments that should have just taken me a couple hours.

Many of us work in the exact same way every single day. We play music in the background, we keep a tab with Facebook open, and our phones are always within arms reach. Ironically, we sometimes even tell ourselves that this distraction helps us focus.

Inspirations / Distractions – Jacob Burgess

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 | 0 comments

Jacob Burgess is a voice actor currently residing in Seattle, WA.

“When [you] get a whole lot of auditions and they’ve got to get out really quickly? Sometimes, it’s no big deal.”

You ask a voiceover artist for a submission, you get a voice over. Our transcript below.


“It’s a weird thing, because distraction happens a lot. Say [you] get a whole lot of auditions: usually, you get a whole lot of auditions, and they’ve got to get out really quickly. Sometimes, it’s no big deal.

Sometimes you’ll get auditions at three [in the afternoon] and they’re due at eight in the morning, and if you’ve already got plans for the evening, there’s a sense of urgency there; there’s no time to get distracted. You’ve just got to find a place to fit it in, to get it done, to get them the best that they can be and get them out the door.

Inspirations / Distractions – Jabari Alii

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 | 0 comments

Jabari Alii is a composer and the mind behind Cinematic Score, a music and sound design company based in Oakland, CA.

“For me, inspiration has always been this ever-elusive superpower. When I could harness it, there was no stopping me.

But it was sporadic, I had no control. I was like a mutant before I got to Professor Xavier’s mansion.”

“As artists, we have the power to transport our audiences to other worlds, and we are often required to command this power at will. Deadlines don’t give a shit about your writer’s block.

Over time, I realized that this superpower arose from tapping into the very thing I was trying to produce: emotion.

Inspirations / Distractions – Crystal Chan

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 | 0 comments

Crystal Chan is a freelance sound designer and student of UC San Diego’s Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program, specializing in music. She currently resides in San Diego, CA.

“In my experience, it’s not so much ‘Inspiration and Distraction,’ but ‘Inspiration IN Distraction.’

… especially when I feel like I’ve exhausted all of my ideas on a project, or just don’t find the project itself to be particularly interesting. Skill and effort are essential parts of the process, but sometimes the best ideas come when my mind isn’t actively focusing on what I need to do.

Attention is rather tricky for me. I either can’t focus at all and get distracted by everything possible or I focus so intensely that I completely lose track of time and before I know it, the entire day is gone and I’ve spent 12 hours working and forgot to eat. So, one skill that I’ve picked up is to pay attention to my thoughts during the times that I stray from productivity.


Jack’s Home NAS Odyssey 2016

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 | 1 comment

Photo by: Moyan Brenn

Photo by: Moyan Brenn


A few months ago I read the article Backup and Archive Solutions for Musicians and it got me thinking of how I could potentially use local network storage to hold my projects and libraries in one location instead of spreading it out among my Mac, PC, and Mac Laptop. This turned into a rather large but fun distraction for a few weekends and then a pretty big distraction when I started building it. (more…)

Inspirations / Distractions – Gordon McGladdery

Posted by on Apr 11, 2016 | 2 comments

Gordon McGladdery runs A Shell In The Pit Audio, a two-person game audio/music company in Vancouver, BC. He also co-hosts the Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio podcast with Matthew Marteinsson.

“I’ve learned there is a distinct difference between hobbyist/personal inspiration and professional inspiration with deadlines and accountability.

I’ve lived through both and prefer the latter.”

Aspiring and hobbyist artists in any field often plead artistic “block” while waiting for some spark of genius to flit into their skulls and inject the motivation required to begin their opus. My inflated ego at the beginning of my career definitely suffered from this. In the professional world, clients don’t have time to wait on maybe-eventual epiphanies. This so called “block” is an avoidance strategy; a fear of potential rejection, and a fear to step into the void to start work without a carefully-laid-out plan.

I use two primary methods to deal with this:


This is when I have to get something done and nothing’s really standing in my way. Frankly, it’s just “getting to work”. It is embracing the idea of moving forward without a specific goal, but laying ground rules beforehand that will assist in hitting the target.

I’ll assign myself a palette, be it instruments for music, or objects/plugins for SFX. Then, I just start playing semi-random stuff within the assigned framework. I hit record when something interesting is happening, then go back, curate the good from the bad and expand.

Sunday Sound Thought 15 – Fore | Mid | Back

Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 | 0 comments

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

I’m continuing the “visual vs. sound analogs” stream this week. I feel confident in expecting that everyone visiting this site is familiar with the concepts of Foreground, Mid-ground, and Background in visual media. That planar approach is also probably how most people think about fore, mid and background when it comes to sound. That planar approach, however, is an oversimplification of the complexities that exist in the way we hear. In cinema (and increasingly, games) the side and rears (sometimes overhead in Atmos and Auro-3d) are all background…even a sound 2 ft. directly in front of us can be background.

Foreground in listening is intimately tied to where our attention is, so vision…or, specifically, where we’re looking…helps determine what is a foreground sound. If you’re watching someone deliver dialog in a film, that’s likely where your attention is. That’s your foreground. If you’re focused on a car approach in the same film, it’s a foreground sound until it passes from view and that sound is panned off screen. Your eyes turn to a different portion of the frame and all of your attention (hearing included) focuses there. That’s your new foreground sound. The car sound, despite your previous attention, is now a background sound.

“But wait!” I hear you saying. “What about sounds from off-screen that are meant to draw your attention?” This is what I think of as mid-ground sound. Anything that steps out of the background and has an effect on the focus of your attention is a mid-ground sound; likely, it will quickly become Foreground. Imagine a silent character on screen, listening to an off screen event. Your attention is focused on this person. You hear the event happening off screen, but your focus is on that character. You’re watching them react, listening for little movements, breaths or sounds that help you interpret what that character is thinking. The character is still the foreground, and the off-screen sound is mid-ground. If it is able to affect the foreground, it is mid-ground.

Anything else is background.

Dialog is where things get tricky. We have a hard time not paying attention to dialog. It’s nearly impossible to hold dialog in the mid-ground…regardless of whether we can see its source or not. A quick loop group line punching through to accentuate a moment can be mid-ground. The longer it lasts though, the closer it gets to foreground. This forces us to quickly push dialog to either the foreground or the background. To keep it in the background usually involves some type of obscuring. That’s part of why loop group lines are usually delivered AS a group. With a bunch of people talking over each other, it’s hard to focus on any one voice. A few things will poke through and become mid-ground to help you grasp the tone, but most of it will be a wash…background.

Changing the way you think about foreground, mid-ground and background will have an impact on the way you design sounds to fit into those spaces.

Inspirations / Distractions – Your Stories

Posted by on Apr 9, 2016 | 0 comments

We’re trying something new this month to keep the pace between features: a steady drip of thoughts, musings and anecdotes from voices in the wider community.

Starting MON 4/11, catch a fast-flowing stream of reflections on our theme from around the industry–and the world!

We’ve still slots for many more, so if you’ve got something to say, email doron [at] this site to contribute to this month’s topic.

New SFX Libraries: March Recap

Posted by on Apr 5, 2016 | 0 comments

A pair of headphones hang on a long line in a rolling field. Article by Adriane Kuzminski.


If you are releasing a new SFX library and you would like it to be included in our recap, send us the details through our SFX Independence Submission Form. However, please notify us of libraries that were released within the last month or substantially updated, since we will not include old libraries that are on sale.

Last month, we had the most submissions I’ve seen since taking over these recaps six months ago. There are sounds of snowpocalypse, machinery hums, granular and rotational noise, expanding Reaktor libraries, handwriting, whooshes, copyright-free broadcasts, drones, destruction, Catalan ambiences, excited dogs, and new glitchy and experimental libraries for Ableton Live. So, let’s get on with it and check out these new libraries from our community.


Snowman HD Professional by The Recordist
Ho, ho, ho, Merry.. wait? It’s Spring! And this means your chance to capture snow sound effects is over! (Unless you’re in the path of Winter Storm Ursula.) But if corn starch just won’t cut it, check out Snowman HD Professional by Frank “The Recordist” Bry. This library goes far and beyond the usual crunchy footsteps and snowball fights. It contains avalanche-quality slides and impacts, as Frank recorded his tractor dumping chunks of snow and piles sliding off his metal roof. He also included many gentler sounds in this library with powdery impacts, light debris and icy sprays as well as the simulated sounds of bodies and tires interacting with snow. If you purchase this library, I suggest you take Frank’s advice and pitch-bend these sounds for some real winter crunch!
(339 Stereo/Mono WAV files, 823.4MB, 24bit/96kHz) (more…)

Sunday Sound Thought 14 – Sound’s Golden Mean?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2016 | 5 comments

As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…

This week, I have a question. While I may occasionally ponder the idea, I’ve never devoted a significant portion of brain power to it for a substantial period of time. That might sound lazy on my part, but it’s actually a hard question and I always have higher priority items on my plate.

…and now I’m just creating excuses. ;)

In case you didn’t notice it in the past (or haven’t been visiting the site as long as some other people have), you may have missed the fact that I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to psycoacoustics. Many of the Gestalt principles or “rules of organization” that describe how we perceive visual stimulus have direct corollaries with the way we perceive sound. There’s one that’s difficult to translate though, because there’s such a stark difference in the way we perceive space through our eyes and ears…the Golden Ratio (sometimes referred to as the Golden Mean).

So what say you sound design community? How do you think the Golden Ratio can be related to sound, or can it not?